- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

As Veterans Day arrives amid talk of yet another war, Americans should stop to remember and honor our forgotten warriors the more than 2.3 million living disabled veterans, whose service to the nation spans nearly a century from World War I through the Gulf War and more recent military actions.
My first encounter with disabled veterans came when I was a singer and actress on Broadway. I was asked to perform in a benefit at the Rusk Rehabilitation Center in New York City. The sight of quadriplegics, amputees and other disabled veterans who gathered to watch the show, and the emotion and hope in their faces as I sang "Somewhere" from the musical "West Side Story," left a powerful impression.
Years later, after finding my cousin's name etched in the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I acted on my dream to help those who have given so much for our nation. In concert with Arthur Wilson, national adjutant of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization, and the late Honorable Jesse Brown, then-secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, I formed the Disabled Veterans' LIFE Memorial Foundation to build a national monument to the millions of veterans who became disabled while defending our American freedom.
I have since learned much about the obstacles faced and sometimes overcome by our disabled veterans. I have seen that disability is an equal-opportunity affliction. It touches the lives of men and women of all races and backgrounds and impacts veterans of all wars. Many of our forgotten heroes suffer massive disability 60 percent or higher while others live among us with lesser degrees of incapacity, making them less visible and easier to overlook.
As Americans, we owe our disabled veterans a debt of both gratitude and honor. They answered the call when our nation needed them. It is especially fitting that we honor our disabled veterans with a memorial near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. The memorial will be a place where visitors from near and far will learn of the legacy of America's disabled veterans: their sacrifice, their struggle and, ultimately, their accomplishments in meeting life's most unrelenting challenges.
This memorial is important for every American. The obstacles overcome by our disabled veterans inspire us all and can be applied to our lives as well the lessons of persistence, determination, hard work, faith and love of our great country.
Congress has passed the bill establishing the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, which will be located near the U.S. Capitol at Independence Avenue and Second Street SW The memorial location won the unanimous approval of the National Capital Memorial Commission as well.
Last August, I was deeply honored to present a $2 million donation to the Disabled Veterans LIFE Memorial Foundation. Presented in honor of the late Mr. Jesse Brown, this contribution will help the foundation spread the word and reach out to individuals and corporations throughout the country. Our goal is to educate Americans about the sacrifice made by our disabled veterans and raise the funds required to build this important memorial.
Please join me in taking a moment this Veterans Day to honor the millions of unsung heroes of America's armed forces who have become disabled for life while defending our freedom, and help me commemorate their sacrifice and dedication by supporting the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.

Lois Pope is chairman of the Disabled Veterans for LIFE Memorial Foundation and founder of the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and Leaders in Furthering Education (LIFE). (www.disabledveteransmemorial.org.)

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